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For the first time in the history of Durga Puja, women priestesses will conduct pujo

18 August, 2021 11:59:56
For the first time in the history of Durga Puja, women priestesses will conduct pujo

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Only Bengal can think and boast of revolutionary women. Specially in an age when India still reports large number of cases of female foeticide, bride burning for dowry, rape, molestation and so on. For the first time in the history of Durga Puja in Bengal, a group of female priestesses will conduct all rituals of the Puja at the famous 66 Pally of South Kolkata. With a message, ‘Maa Durga will be invoked by Mothers’, this will be revolutionary indeed, not just for Bengal, but the whole of India as systematically women have been stopped from conducting any rituals by Brahmins since middle age. A recent Bengali movie Brahma janen gopon kommoti was based on such a progressive thought of allowing women priestesses within the sanctum of worship.

Nandini Bhowmick, Ruma Roy, Semanti Banerjee and Poulami Chakraborty are the group of women who will create history this Durga Puja. Nandini Bhowmick was a student of Lady Brabourne College and studied Sanskrit and Literature. One of her teachers Gauri Dharmapal had written a new set of rituals and mantras based on the Vedic Literature for a ‘Baidik Marriage.’ While Nandini was working as a lecturer, she came across her teacher’s ‘New Rituals for Vedic Marriage’ and contacted her. Dharmapal helped Nandini and another student Ruma to conduct the first Vedic Marriage. That’s how they started their journey as priestesses. Now Rabindrasangeet exponents Semanti Banerjee and Poulami Chakraborty are also part of the team. At every marriage ceremony conducted by the group, Rabindrasangeet takes centre stage as Tagore was a visionary in women education too. Semanti and Poulami sing while the marriage mantras are recited. This year 66 Pally will also witness live Rabindrasangeet along with the mantras. What will be thus interesting is the Hindu-Brahmo divide of ‘Sakar and Nirakar Brahma’ and how Tagore will be relevant at an idol Puja. Tagore in a letter to Kadambari Devi had himself raised this ‘divide’ and smashed the ceiling citing that every human is part of both. 


In a city where theme-based puja pandals are a rage, the organisers of 66 Pally wanted to smash gender inequality and celebrate women empowerment in the true spirit of the festival. The puja committee will kick-start its 2021 puja preparations through ‘khuntipujo’ on August 22. Pradyumna Mukherjee of 66 Pally said: “There are four priestesses who are in-charge of puja this year. The festival will be conducted following all the traditional rituals. The main purpose of this puja is to bridge the gender gap. Maa Durga is worshipped by everyone, so why should there be any gender inequality in her worship?”

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